09 August 2023

A win for freedom and democracy in Ohio

Yesterday Ohio held a special vote on Issue 1, a Republican proposal to require that future referenda on changing the state constitution would require a 60% supermajority, not merely a 50% majority, to pass.  Such a referendum will be on Ohio's ballot in November, to establish a state constitutional guarantee of a right to abortion.  Issue 1 was a blatant effort to make it harder for this change to pass -- that is, a "no" vote on Issue 1 favors abortion rights.

With almost all the vote counted, Issue 1 has been rejected by 57% to 43%.  This means that the requirement to amend the state constitution remains at 50%, and the abortion rights amendment this November will almost certainly pass.

Ohio is a fairly red state these days -- Trump carried it in both 2016 and 2020.  Yesterday's turnout was high.  The fact that Issue 1 lost by such a large margin means that large numbers of Republicans must have voted against it, affirming what elections in several other states have shown -- many Republican voters disagree with their party's pro-forced-birth policy.  That policy will continue to hobble the party as long as they cling to it.

This result was a major win for freedom, specifically for women's self-determination.

The vote was also a win for democracy, since there was such a high turnout (especially for an off-season special election) and the result will preserve the voters' ability to exert their power.  This applies to other issues beyond abortion.  Issue 1 was also supported by those who seek to preserve Ohio's extreme gerrymandering, which a future referendum could undo, and by business interests who fear referenda to raise the minimum wage, legalize marijuana, and promote other causes they oppose.  Its failure will embolden voters to act on all these matters.

This is an excellent example of power being exerted "from the bottom up", by the people themselves.  We voters are not helpless supplicants who must beg for such favors as politicians choose to dole out to us.  Especially in those states which allow referenda, we can act directly to preserve and expand our freedoms and rights.


Blogger NickM said...

If, as you state, Issue 1 was to enable a specific change (abortion) then I can well understand this sort of chicanery really getting on people's wick. Because that is not how constitutions and democracies are suppossed to work. It is certainly a very long way from my impressions of what the Founding Fathers intended. I know I'm just a limey and all but I flatter myself to think I have a better grasp of the legal frameworks of the US than a certain one of your politicians. OK maybe The Satsuma just doesn't care but I suspect he really doesn't know either... There are things living in my pond that have a greater attention span. The point is there are probably a lot of Republicans who, even if they are "pro-life", are queasy about such dodgy, bordering on dishonourable, antics. I suspect the fact that there are a lot of Republicans who respect the founding principles of the nation in a way The Tangerine doesn't is a at least as big an issue of principle as abortion. See Mike Pence - who for all his flaws - committed "treason" against The Mandarin. Which meant not committing treason against the United States but that is such a subtle distinction the Papayan People's Front don't grok it.

09 August, 2023 05:22  
Anonymous Annie said...

Hear! Hear! Abortion was the driver, but so was the larger sentiment that “You can’t change the rules like that!” The fact that the legislature had thrown out August elections very recently as unnecessary and expensive—and brought this one back to prevent the November pro-choice initiative from winning—turned off many voters. So did rank corruption.

My husband and I wrote “Vote No on Issue 1” postcards; before long, we’ll be writing “Vote Yes” postcards on the proposed Constitutional amendment.

The Ohio win should bolster pro-democracy sentiment everywhere.

09 August, 2023 12:28  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

NickM: There was probably a certain resentment of the fact that this was an effort to "trick" people into voting away their own power to protect abortion rights, and in a special election where low turnout would be expected. It does feel like abusing the process. However, the "no" vote at 57% was very close to the percentage of Ohioans who favor legal abortion for most cases (58%), so I think this really was mostly a proxy vote on abortion, and understood as such.

Annie: Thanks for contributing via the postcards. The win in Ohio continues the pattern we've seen since Dobbs -- several legislatures have voted to take away abortion rights, but voters have upheld them every time they've had a chance to do so in a referendum, even in purple or red states. It's clearly a very potent issue.

11 August, 2023 03:10  
Anonymous Annie said...

A similar effort is under way in Florida for 2024. That one must get through state Supreme Court approval of the language and surpass 60% voter approval. If it does, it would be a particularly sweet success.

11 August, 2023 07:19  
Anonymous Reaganite Independent said...

Looks like our creaky democracy still allows for the people to roll back power grab attempts like this one. Good to see, duly linked.

There is a natural temptation to relinquish decision making to elected officials, people aren’t well informed enough to have a pure democracy, of course. But in my view the Republicans have shown bad faith in a lot of what they’re trying to do lately, and we best keep a check on them whenever possible- they don’t really talk about opportunity + freedom much anymore, And I guess libertarianism is pretty much out the window

11 August, 2023 07:45  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Annie: Good to know -- thanks for the link. I would love to see DeSanitize get his ass kicked with something like this.

Reaganite: I certainly agree that direct democracy won't work for everything. Most people don't have anything like the knowledge to vote on a government budget, for example. But the issues here seem made for it -- preserving access to a basic personal right, and repudiating overreach by elected officials.

I see the term "freedom" used a lot on right-wing blogs, but it doesn't seem to have any definable meaning any more, unless it means freedom to own guns. If anything, they're using it to mean freedom to refuse basic public-health precautions (like masks for covid) and to pollute as much as they like -- not real freedoms since they directly impact other people.

Libertarianism had appeal when it was really about personal freedom (though even then there was too much nutty stuff like unlimited immigration). Nowadays it's evolved into merely an ideological basis for preserving the privileges of the ultra-wealthy oligarchy.

11 August, 2023 08:13  
Blogger NickM said...

That is certainly a very close correlation of stats... But I stand by my point that there are a lot of decent Republicans who find the sheer skullduggery of parts of their party abhorrent. People who find Trump's belief that as president he was voted into a positon akin to a medieval despot who could just, "Make it so!" regardless of the structures, mechanisms and conventions (formal and informal) that make a polity a nation and one that through Hell and high water has managed for nearly 250 years now to remain, by and large, "On the side of the Angels". I also suspect that many US Christians are very wary (to put it mildly) about "Christian Nationalism". After all many Christians fled Europe for the USA because of theocracy, real or potential. A legally enforced, religiously based, legal code is utterly antithetical not just to the Constitution of the USA but to the founding spirit of your country. And when attempted by such sleight of hand is doubly so.

11 August, 2023 15:28  

Post a Comment

<< Home